How Tassomai helped us get our best ever GCSE science grades in just 6 months!
By Claire Crichton-Allen, Curriculum Lead for Science at Matthew Moss High School.
Matthew Moss High School introduced Tassomai in the run up to Christmas - within just six months it made a huge impact, helping the school get their best ever GCSE science results in summer 2018. Claire Crichton-Allen, Curriculum Lead for Science tells us how they embraced the program and got magnificent results thanks to a committed team and a competitive spirit amongst teachers and students.
Matthew Moss is a mainstream secondary school in Greater Manchester. We are slightly outside the parameters of normal variation in that we take a humanistic approach to education. Academic outcomes are very important to us and our learners but we are certainly not an exam factory. We very much see ourselves as innovative, and our practice as evidence based - research informed. As a staff we are actively encouraged to read, and to try things that are outside the norm to help our learners achieve good grades.
I’ve been Head of the Science Department for 5 years now and although we've seen increasingly good grades, we were still finding that as learners approached the exams they were struggling to recall some of the core concepts. By this stage in the year we should really be focusing on developing those all important skills of application and evaluation. This year, with the new changes to GCSE, developing that application of content to unfamiliar situations was a real focus for the department.
I'd heard about Tassomai at a PiXL breakout a couple of years ago. Later a colleague from senior management brought it up. They had met a fellow professional from another school who had used it and loved it, attributing an increase in science results to their engagement with the platform. I had a demo with Tassomai's founder Murray, I really liked the fact that it addressed some of our concerns around the mastery of core concepts and in such a way that learners could engage with it via any internet enabled device.
We decided to go for it but by the point we rolled it out it was almost the Christmas break. I realised the sooner we got everyone on board the better and it became my personal mission to bombard learners with reminders to the point where I was even emailing people on Christmas Day!
We have a really keen, committed team and the staff are a competitive bunch. A bit of inter class rivalry always helps and we used this competition to motivate both staff and students.
We created a leaderboard and our message was "come back after Christmas and be on this leaderboard!" We involved parents and convinced everyone how important it was to compete, I think basically learners realised they'd be nagged to death if they didn't engage with it!
Engagement and intervention
Those that got started with it loved it, they started using it loads and got quite competitive. Obviously there were some that didn't engage as much as others but those were the students that are always hard to engage. What helped was that it was very easy to see who was engaging with it and who wasn't thanks to the data that we got from the program.
We used the diagnostic tools a lot, particularly to direct our interventions. We timetabled one session a week for staff to use the platform to identify areas of misconception.
Staff were then empowered to plan timely and effective interventions to address the areas of need. Learners were very much encouraged to take ownership of this too and would often say “I don’t understand this topic”. Teachers would then look at the Tassomai data, to drill down into the topic and check what specifically a learner needed to address.
We also run a weekly D6, a voluntary Saturday school session where local sixth formers are paid to peer-peer coach. We choose to pay sixth formers to do this because we think it’s a better way for them to be using their time than working a typical Saturday job and everyone benefits.
Tassomai enabled learners to direct their own study for maximum impact. Without Tassomai they wouldn’t know what to study - they’d just say “I want help in science” or “I need help with everything”. This year the sixth form students were able to look at Tassomai's data instead, and say “actually, I can see you’re finding this particular subject tricky so let’s work on that today”.
Seeing an impact
We began to notice by our second series of mocks in February that results were better than the same point in the previous year. It was at this point we began to correlate some of these improvements with the Tassomai platform. We started to hear students say “I saw that on Tassomai” and our teachers felt they could focus more on application as students already knew the basics.
We found that the girls engaged with it faster, but boys caught up when they saw the impact. By exam time we had huge buy in. The students liked the convenience of Tassomai, being able to do it on their phones and the fact they they could revise without thinking about revision or what to revise.
Our 2018 results were magnificent, the best GCSE science grades the school has seen. Over 7% of our students got the highest possible grade and over half of the cohort were above 55.
Science Faculty Headlines: Results 2018
Average grade = 55-
Average grade points = 4.83
Average residual = +0.43
Average residual compared to English and maths only - +0.15
Average residual compared to EBacc subjects only = +0.31
The secret of our success
I put our success with Tassomai down to the team going “all in” and really embracing it. We were determined to give it our best shot and this enthusiasm helped engage students and their parents. It takes time and effort to launch Tassomai properly and it requires an ongoing effort to make sure students are using it and it becomes part of their routine. Lots of other things that take time and effort aren’t worth it, but as you can see from the results, this was!